MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte remains steadfast in his commitment to speed up the development in communities still infested with the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
As part of his efforts to counter insurgency, Duterte will visit Lucena, Quezon on Thursday to emphasize his administration’s peace and development initiatives in Calabarzon, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said in a press statement issued Wednesday.
“President Rodrigo Duterte, who is also Chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), shall resume his visits to the different regions to fast-track the development of conflict-affected and geographically-isolated barangays,” Esperon, who concurrently serves as NTF-ELCAC vice chairperson, said.
The NTF-ELCAC has identified a total of 822 villages that have already been cleared of NPA influence.
The 822 NPA-cleared villages are expected to receive PHP20 million each to fund their anti-insurgency projects.
Esperon said around 72 projects under the NTF-ELCAC’s Barangay Development Program (BDP) will be implemented in 32 insurgency-cleared villages in Calabarzon.
“In response to the swift release of funds for the implementation of the BDP, a total of 35 local government units (LGUs) in Region 4-A (Calabarzon) have issued their resolutions or statements of support for the 2021 implementation of the BDP,” he said.
Esperon added that about 49 LGUs in Calabarzon have already expressed support for the 2022 implementation of the BDP.
“For 2022, a total of 31 barangays (villages) in Region 4-A are to receive the BDP package in the region,” Esperon said.
Under the 2021 national budget, around PHP18 billion is earmarked for the NTF-ELCAC.
About PHP16 billion of the PHP19 billion budget of the NTF-ELCAC is allocated to its BDP, a hallmark program with the end goal of bringing development to former conflict-prone communities.
The BDP is a package of socio-economic development programs, which include farm-to-market roads, livelihood, irrigation, and health stations.
Esperon said a total of 1,406 villages nationwide are set to get PHP 20 million each next year.
“By working with local government officials and executives, our partnership effects an inclusive environment for peace and development at the local level,” he said. “On behalf of the Local Chief Executives, the NTF-ELCAC expresses gratitude to the President for his commitment to provide for the needs identified by our community leaders in their pursuit for growth.”
Esperon said the NTF-ELCAC would do its best to ensure that no community will be left behind amid Duterte’s resolve to make all areas in the country free from the threat and influence of NPA.
“The BDP is our commitment to Filipinos, notably those in conflict-affected barangays, that they are first and foremost in our development agenda,” Esperon said.
The CPP-NPA has been declared as terrorist group by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)